Department for Culture Media and Sport

listed buildings

When a building is "listed" it is recognised as being of special architectural or historic interest.

Listed status protects a building against unauthorised demolition, alteration or extension. It ensures that its special interest is taken into account when proposals are put forward which affect its character or appearance.

Listing decisions

Listing decisions are made by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who is required by the Planning Act 1990 to approve a list of buildings of special architectural or historic interest. English Heritage (EH) administers the listing system.

Visit the website for details of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.

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Statutory criteria for listing

To assess whether a building is of special interest and should be added to the statutory list, the Secretary of State considers both architectural and historic interest.

The Principles of Selection for Listing Buildings PDF (65kb) sets out the general principles the Secretary of State applies when deciding whether a building is of special architectural or historic interest.

Not all these principles will be relevant to every case, but a particular building may qualify for listing under more than one of them.

Architectural interest

A building may be considered important for its:

  • architectural design
  • decoration
  • craftsmanship

Special interest may also apply to:

  • nationally important examples of particular building types and techniques, for example buildings displaying technological innovation or virtuosity
  • significant plan forms

Historic interest

A building must:

  • illustrate important aspects of England's social, economic, cultural or military history
  • have close historical associations with nationally important people
  • normally have some quality of interest in its physical fabric

When making a listing decision, the Secretary of State may take into account the extent to which the exterior contributes to the architectural or historic interest of any group of buildings of which it forms part. This is generally known as “group value”.

English Heritage selection guides

Selection guides for different building types have been published on the English Heritage website. These highlight significant features likely to make a building of special architectural or historic interest within a period, region or style.

Please note: The statutory criteria and Principles of Selection take precedence over the selection guides, which are not comprehensive and are intended as supplementary information only. Selection guide content may change when EH gain new knowledge about different building types.


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Grading of listed buildings

  • Grade I buildings are those of exceptional interest
  • Grade II* are particularly important buildings of more than special interest
  • Grade II are of special interest, justifying every effort to preserve them

There are approximately 374,000 list entries. 92% are Grade II.


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Applying for listing or de-listing

To have a building considered for listing or de-listing, submit an application form to EH. Full information including application form guidance notes are on the English Heritage website.

EH assesses buildings put forward for listing or de-listing and provides advice to us on the architectural and historic interest. The Secretary of State, who may seek additional advice from others, then decides whether to list or de-list the building.


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Altering a Listed Building

DCMS is not responsible for approving alterations to listed buildings. The management of listed buildings is the responsibility of local planning authorities and the Department for Communities and Local Government.


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Certificates of Immunity

If planning permission is being sought or has been obtained, any person may ask the Secretary of State to issue a Certificate of Immunity (CoI) in respect of a particular building. CoIs give certainty to developers proposing works that will affect buildings that may be eligible for listing.

To apply for a CoI submit an application form. Guidance notes are available on English Heritage website.


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